CAMINANDO WITH JESUS: A Healing Touch
After Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
- Mark 1:29-39
In the past year, we have all experienced a multitude of losses. For some, that means less traveling for work and sending all of one’s day hopping around from one Zoom call to another. For others, who are essential workers providing medical care or food, their days have taken on new risks and challenges. And, of course, our Sundays have changed as we have moved to online streaming of Morning Prayer or Holy Eucharist. One unintended consequence of our lives in COVID is the loss of touch. And as small as it sounds, these minute ways in which we physically interact with one another have a grand impact upon our individual and common lives.
Just think about a handshake when you meet someone new. Or giving a high-five after hitting a home run. Many of us immediately think of passing the peace on a Sunday morning with folks who have gathered to worship our living and loving God. It is with these same hands that we reach up in our frail humanity to grasp the most precious body and blood of our dear Savior Jesus Christ.
In our fast-moving scene from the gospel of Mark today, we find Jesus and his companions as they have left the synagogue where Jesus has cast out a demon. They walk the very short distance to Simon and Andrew’s home by the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum. When they arrive at the house, they find Simon’s mother-in-law ill with a fever. It is here, on this Sabbath day, that Jesus takes her by the hand and raises her up. The fever leaves her. Jesus has healed her, and it is in this moment her life is changed. Not only has the fever left her, but her immediate response is to be of service – a posture Jesus himself takes when he washes the feet of the disciples. Some say that Simon’s mother-in-law was the first deacon, and this is certainly a moment of evangelical witness.
While we are limited in our current interactions with each other due to COVID, Jesus’ movement and healing touch is never limited. In fact, we are the ones who try to put limits on where Jesus can reach and touch us. Perhaps in an effort to move on from painful memories in our past or painful truths in our present, we tuck them away inside where we think no one will see. Sometimes it is intentional and other times not, but we hide parts of ourselves away – parts that may seem too shameful or too scary to revisit. We shy away from exposing our most vulnerable selves and give in to a life filled with shame and regret. And when we do this, we also limit our own experience of Jesus’ healing and transformative touch: a touch that takes hold of all our fears and shame, regrets and disappointments, and raises them up to redeemed life.
I wonder what it would take to uncover what it is that you have hidden away. Can you ask Jesus to take your hand in healing? I wonder if your healing moment would be like that of Simon’s mother-in-law: a moment that leads to praise and thanksgiving through service to and love of Jesus. I wonder what transformation looks like in you.
The Rev. Marion Sprott-Goldson is associate rector of St. Martin's, Charlotte.
Tags: Caminando with Jesus